Law and Conversation

January 14, 2012

My BigLaw column: Five tips from the bench

Filed under: judiciary,Law,lawyers,Technology — Helen Gunnarsson @ 4:41 pm
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In December 2011 I wrote a column for TechnoLawyer’s BigLaw e-mail newsletter, “Goliath v. David: Five Tips From the Bench for Large Law Firms That Square Off Against Solos and Small Law Firms.” I based it on my experience as an administrative law judge for the Illinois Human Rights Commission for nearly a decade as well as on conversations I’ve had over the years with judges from a number of different tribunals. (It was a lot of fun to write.)

Now, TechnoLawyer is soliciting reader votes for the best BigLaw column of 2011. The winner gets (1) an ego boost and (2) a virtual TechnoLawyer badge to display on his or her blog, toward bragging. (See below for the badge I received in August.) Since I’d love to have both the ego boost and the virtual badge, I’m asking anyone and everyone as well as their spouses, kids, law partners, and friends, to please vote for my column. You just have to sign up for a TechnoLawyer account if you don’t already have one, which doesn’t cost anything, and then click to vote. Here’s the info on how to do it, copied and pasted from TechnoLawyer’s e-mail; MANY THANKS to all for clicking for me.

HELEN W. GUNNARSSON’S BIGLAW COLUMN …

Goliath v. David: Five Tips From the Bench for Large Law
Firms That Square Off Against Solos and Small Law Firms

Vote for This BigLaw Column:
http://www.technolawyer.com/r.asp?L26119&M62987

Read This BigLaw Column:
http://bit.ly/x7Ax6f

TechnoLawyer, incidentally, is well worth signing up for if you’re a lawyer. It provides useful articles for lawyers in all different practice settings, focused, of course, on how to use technology to help you practice law more efficiently. And it’s FREE (at least, the current e-mails are; if you want to read an archived article in the library, you’ll have to pay). I’ve had warm and fuzzy feelings for TechnoLawyer ever since August 2011, when the company picked my cover story for that month’s Illinois Bar Journal, “To Tweet Or Not To Tweet: Twitter For Lawyers,” as BlawgWorld’s Pick Of The Week!

January 2, 2012

Looking back on 2011 and forward into 2012

2011 was a great year for reading for me. I focused even more than I have in past years on reading critically and with purpose. That meant I read more books, and better books, than when I’ve read more haphazardly.

I like to keep a running list of the books I read, the better to remember them (which writing about them on this blog also helps me to do). My personal Best Book Read In 2011 was the graphic novel “Watchmen,” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Other books I enjoyed greatly included several by Alexander McCall Smith; Scottish poet Jackie Kay’s memoir, “Red Dust Road;” Suzanne Collins’s YA blockbuster, “The Hunger Games;” and Anthony Trollope’s masterwork, “The Way We Live Now,” which had been on my TBR list for at least a couple of years.

One book I especially enjoyed wasn’t even my idea to read. Knowing of my passion for Laura Ingalls Wilder, an intuitive friend surprised me with a gift at the end of 2011, Kristin Kimball’s “The Dirty Life.” Ever wonder what it was REALLY like for Laura to live with Almanzo and build a life on the farm together? After reading Kimball’s memoir of meeting, moving in with, and marrying her farmer husband, I think I have a pretty good idea (and, like Kimball’s husband, I bet Almanzo and, for that matter, Laura, had smelly armpits, too).

One of my resolutions last year was to read a nice, juicy biography. I had two in mind: Maynard Solomon’s “Beethoven” and Benita Eisler’s “O’Keefe and Stieglitz.” Alas, they’re still sitting on my nightstand, unread. But I kept that resolution by reading another thick biography I’d had for several years: Mary S. Lovell’s “The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family.” Lovell’s book was a good read about an interesting family, but I found myself agreeing with a discerning friend who described it as having “lost its moral compass.” To her, and to me, the author seemed rather too enthralled by the faded glamour of the unrepentant Diana Mitford, in particular, who married Oswald Mosley, an M.P. who became the leader of the British Fascists and, with Diana, was imprisoned for much of World War II because of their open sympathy for Hitler. Scandalous Women has more about the Mitford sisters.

Another aspiration of mine in 2011 was to read a Dickens novel. I’m sorry to say I didn’t keep that one. But in 2012 I hope to make amends by reading both Claire Tomalin’s new biography of Dickens and a Dickens novel I haven’t read before, since both were under our Christmas tree. I’m excited!

I did something new in 2011 that I plan to continue in 2012: I became a guest blogger on The Europa Challenge Blog. It was pure serendipity that I peeked at my Twitter stream one evening and saw Marie’s tweet inviting fans of Europa Editions publications to participate on this fan blog. Having already read several Europa books, I had no hesitation about accepting. Initially, I signed up for the fairly conservative four-book Europa Ami challenge level. But I like a bit of competition, so I pushed myself and surpassed the 7-book Europa Haver level, reading 8 new Europa books in all—which doesn’t count the several I’d read before accepting the challenge. For 2012, Marie has renamed the levels with a wonderful continental café theme. I’m starting out cautiously, signing up for the 4-book Espresso level, but I’m quite confident I’ll be able to reach at least the 6-book Cappuccino mark. As a lawyer, I love finding and thinking about the legal issues in the books I read. In Europa’s books, I’d particularly recommend Alberto Angela’s “A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome” for its brief discussion of Roman legal proceedings, Peter Kocan’s “The Treatment and The Cure” and “Fresh Fields” for his depiction of Australia’s treatment of the mentally ill who have committed crimes, and Jane Gardam’s wonderful “Old Filth” and “The Man in the Wooden Hat” for her portrait of a marriage from both spouses’ respective points of view.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

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